Monday, June 30, 2014

The Seven-Year Itch and the Joy of Lifelong Marriage

by David Mathis

German politician Gabriele Pauli shocked her conservative party and sent waves through news outlets worldwide when she proposed in September 2007 that marriage should only last seven years.

Described at the time as “Bavaria’s most glamorous politician,” the 50-year-old, twice-divorced, motorcycle-riding Pauli campaigned for party head, in part, with the hopes of institutionalizing what some have called “the seven-year itch.” Her plan was that marriages would automatically dissolve after seven years, at which point the spouses could renew their union or go along on their own merry ways. Pauli did not win in her bid for party leadership.

Seven-Year What?
The “seven-year itch” is a widely recognized psychological term suggesting the seven-year mark as a common time when spouses sense they have drifted away from each other and desire to explore other romantic interests. It’s also the title of an iconic 1955 motion picture, which popularized the phrase in relation to marriage.

Or did the film create the idea altogether? The script, which would sound like relatively tame theater today, teetered on the edge of scandalous 60 years ago. It was about a married man who, after sending his wife and son away to Maine for the summer, discovers an attractive single lady (played by Marilyn Monroe) has moved into his building. At first he resists his desires to flirt, but soon he initiates toward her, though ultimately she rejects his overtures.

Following the movie’s success, the idea of a “seven-year itch” caught traction in a culture of no-fault divorce and became a convenient excuse for boredom with monogamy. Subsequent research claimed initially that such a seven-year itch was confirmed by the data, but more thorough investigation eventually pointed to four years, then other research to twelve years, then still more to three years. Increasingly, the studies are finding there’s no magic number at all, and the number seven, as well as any kind of typical point of “itch,” has just been a myth for decades.

As Long As We Both Shall Live
On June 29, 2007, just a few months before Pauli was announcing her idea in Germany, my wife and I stood before our pastor, our friends, and our family — and most importantly, before our God — and vowed to each other,

    . . . I will be faithful to you
    In plenty and in want,
    In joy and in sorrow,
    In sickness and in health,
    To love and to cherish,
    As long as we both shall live.

As long as we both shall live. No exceptions. No out-clauses. Not just in plenty, joy, and health, but also in want, sorrow, and sickness. No allowances for any seven-year itches or any other excuse. We left father and mother, covenanted to become one flesh (Genesis 2:24), and have taken Jesus’s words with utter seriousness, “What God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6). Neither of us would say that marriage has been easy, but here in 2014, with it being seven years this week, we can say it’s a glorious thing that there are no outs but death.

For Being Ourselves and Fighting Our Sin
 The stresses, strains, tensions, and pains of marriage caught both of us off guard early on. Our dating was so peaceful — too peaceful, it turned out — and engagement only had a few speed bumps. But once we were both all in, both fully believing this was our unbending commitment till death, with no loopholes or exegetical outs, then, with the conditionality of dating and engagement aside, and the unconditionality of covenantal marriage now in place, we were finally free to be real selves. Which was such a good thing, though it soon got a little messy.

But these were good messes to make, ones we desperately needed (and still need). All along the mess had been inside us (and still is), in our selfish and sinful hearts, and the real cleaning couldn’t begin happening until it was out in the open. We both previously had Christian roommates and disciples who had pressed on our own sin and pushed us toward Jesus. But something about this lifelong covenant — something about knowing that the gig with this one roommate is for the rest of life — forced us to speak up about the quirks, idiosyncrasies, and sins we otherwise could have ignored for a few months or a couple years.

As two rescued sinners, banking on Jesus for eternal redemption and for increasing redemption here in this life, we didn’t want to keep everything at surface level. We wanted to truly know each other, and become our true selves in Christ, not just the best face we could put on before marriage. We could have tried living on and on with a fa├žade of harmony, and never strained to go deeper, and experienced only the thin joy that comes from keeping everything at the surface. But we wanted more (we still want more). We wanted greater joy. We wanted fuller satisfaction. We wanted the greater pleasure that comes only on the other side of pain and difficulty. We wanted the better relationship that comes only after things first get worse. And marriage with no exits but death has forced the issue.

For Witnessing to the World
 But not only is “as long as we both shall live” better for us and for our children (much could be said about that), but we’re better able to witness to the world. The world is full of relationships with strings attached. In some of those, like employment, conditions are good and necessary. But when every relationship is fraught with conditions, it can feel like there’s no rest for the weary.

The world needs to see in Christian marriages a pointer to the Savior who, without conditions, chose to set his love on his bride, the church (Ephesians 1:4–6), and through thick and thin, with all her failures and unfaithfulnesses, continues working to “sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26–27).

When the exceptions and conditions are gone at the most fundamental level, a man must learn to “love his wife as himself” (Ephesians 5:33) and discover the joy of Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” In the covenant, we can no more leave behind the reality of our marriage than we can abandon our own bodies. “Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28).

Seven years is a relatively short time, but we’re far enough in at this point to celebrate with some substance that we’re in this for the long haul. Here at our seventh anniversary, we’ve tasted enough of the benefits, not without the difficulties, to be grateful that we’re walking this path of covenantal marriage without any exceptions and outs, as long as we both shall live.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

7 Good Reasons to Stop Looking at Porn Right Now

by Tim Challies

There are certain topics I return to on a regular basis and, if you are a regular reader of this site, you know that one of those topics is pornography. I return to it again and again because I see the damage it is doing and I see the despair of those who are caught up in it. My goal for today is simple: I want to give you 7 good reasons you need to stop looking at porn right now.
 
1. The Cost to Your Soul
I want to begin here: With the cost to your soul. If you are consumed with pornography and unwilling to put this sin to death, you have every reason to be concerned with the state of your soul. God promises that if he has saved us we will gain new passions and new affections. We will have not only the ability but also the desire to replace sin with holiness, to replace immorality with sexual purity. If you have no sorrow for sin, if you have no real desire for victory, if time and again you recklessly choose your sin over your Savior, you need to ask yourself this: Do I love pornography enough to go to hell for it? If this sin continues to dominate your life, it may stand as proof that you do not have a saving, sin-slaying faith. For the sake of your soul, stop looking at pornography.
 
2. The Cost to Your Neighbor
Even those who know next-to-nothing about the Christian faith know this: Christians are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Just like Jesus, Christians are to esteem others higher than themselves and to place the concerns of other people ahead of their own. Of all people, Christians should know that pornography exacts a high cost of those who create it—the cost to their bodies, to their souls, to their mental well-being, to their dignity, to their future. A vast amount of the pornography you enjoy is created by people against their wills. The simple fact is, by watching porn, you are watching rape and deriving pleasure from it. You become a willing participant in sexual violence and you allow that actor on the screen to suffer for your pleasure. For the sake of your neighbor, stop looking at pornography.
 
3. The Cost to Your Church
At a time when the Christian church is crying out for more and better leaders, an entire generation of young men and women are infantilizing themselves by their dedication to pornography. They are in perpetual pornolesence, that period between the conviction of sin and the determination to do anything to stop it. In this time they constantly choose sexual immorality over God and their spiritual growth is stunted. For the sake of your church, stop looking at pornography.

4. The Cost to Your Family
There is scarcely a pastor ministering today who has not seen a family crumble and fall under the weight of pornographic addiction. Men are tearing apart their families for the sake of illicit pleasures; women are shunning the attention of their husbands in order to read or to watch what is forbidden and what seems to promise greater and easier satisfaction. Children are being exposed to pornography through the trails their parents leave behind. Fathers are inviting Satan into the home by their commitment to what God forbids and what Satan loves. For the sake of your family, stop looking at pornography.

5. The Cost to Your Mission
The Lord’s commission is an urgent commission because it is a matter of eternal life and death. Time is short and hell is forever, which makes the Christian’s business an urgent business. And yet so many Christians are distracted by something as evil and as wasteful as pornography. Their attention is arrested, their energy depleted, their usefulness undermined. Don Whitney says it well: “If there are any regrets in Heaven, they will only be that we did not use our earthly time more for the glory of God and for growth in His grace. If this is so, this may be Heaven’s only similarity with hell, which will be filled with agonizing laments over time so foolishly squandered.” For the sake of your mission, stop looking at pornography.
 
6. The Cost to Your Witness
Christians are called to be different, to stand out from the rest of the world by their desires and by their behavior. Christians are to put sin to death and to display the power of God in removing and destroying all competitors. And yet so many Christians have had their witness shattered when the sordid truth comes out and when others learn that they profess faith in Christ on the one hand, and are consumed with lust on the other. Parents undermine the gospel they have been telling their children, pastors undermine the gospel they have been preaching to their congregations. For the sake of your witness, stop looking at pornography.
 
7. The Cost to Your Savior
By making light of pornography you are making light of the death of Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, you acknowledge in your profession of faith that the cost of forgiveness was nothing less than the death of God’s beloved Son. Jesus suffered and died for your sin. How can you, as a Christian, then toy with your sin and take it lightly? How can you cling to it? As Spurgeon says with his customary eloquence, “Sin has been pardoned at such a price that we cannot henceforth trifle with it.” For God’s sake, stop looking at pornography.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Garbage In, Garbage Out

"What goes in you will someday surely show. It's gonna show. Garbage in, garbage out; what goes in is found out. All can see what goes in me. I pay the price." —Tal & Acacia
You are what you read; you are what you watch, and you are what you listen to. Garbage in, garbage out. It is not "just a book"; it is not "just a movie"; and it is not "just a song." It is an influence on who and what you are, what you will become, and what you believe.

"For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7

You act the way you act because you believe the way you believe. You behave the way you behave because you think the way you think. How you believe determines what you do. Correct belief and correct thinking will result in correct action.

The kind of information your put into your heart and mind is the kind of behaviour that is going to come out of you. Feed garbage in, and garbage is going to come out. The kind of books you read, the kind of movies you watch, and the kind of music you listen to influence the person you are and the person you are going to become.

Here are the lyrics to the song Garbage In, Garbage Out by Tal & Acacia:
Sittin' alone now, thinkin' about things going on inside of me
I feel so angry, so sin-filled and I wonder how this could be
But now I remember what You said to me long ago
That what goes in you will one day surely show
It's gonna show

Garbage in, garbage out
What goes in is found out
All can see what goes in me
I pay the price

Yeah
Garbage in, garbage out
What goes in is found out
All can see what goes in me
I pay the price


I fill my mind with bad things, so horrible I'd feel ashamed they'd show
I've taken sin so lightly that lately the darkness is all I know
The time is now to leave the junk behind
the moment has arrived where I no longer am blind
It's garbage in

Garbage in, garbage out
What goes in is found out
All can see what goes in me
I pay the price

Yeah
Garbage in, garbage out
What goes in is found out
All can see what goes in me
I pay the price


Jesus, forgive me for leaving You to please myself
Jesus, I see the mistake in loving this world's wealth
O Lord, grab hold of this sin-filled child, for now, 'cause the darkness is all around

Garbage in, garbage out
What goes in is found out
All can see what goes in me
I pay the price

Yeah
Garbage in, garbage out
What goes in is found out
All can see what goes in me
I pay the price

Yeah
Garbage in, garbage out
What goes in is found out
All can see what goes in me
I pay the price

Yeah
Garbage in, garbage out
What goes in is found out
All can see what goes in me
I pay the price

Here are the lyrics to the song Computer Brains by Petra:
Everything that you do and see,
One more event in your memory
Every bit takes another byte
Without control over wrong or right

You must screen every entry made,
The consequences must be weighed
The only way to security
Is every thought in captivity

Computer brains, put garbage in
Computer brains, get garbage out
Computer brains, programming you
Computer brains, what can you do?
Break out, break out, break out

Are you a user or being used,
Has your memory been abused?
Take random samples from your mind
And analyze what you may find

Computer brains, put garbage in
Computer brains, get garbage out
Computer brains, programming you
Computer brains, what can you do?
Break out, break out, break out, break out, break out
Break out, break out, break out

Computer brains, put garbage in
Computer brains, get garbage out
Computer brains, programming you
Computer brains, what can you do?
Break out, break out, break out

You can clear all your memory
And be transformed when you find the key
Think on the things that will bring you peace
Confusing data soon will cease

Computer brains, put garbage in
Computer brains, get garbage out
Computer brains, programming you
Computer brains, what can you do?
Break out, break out, break out
Break out, break out, break out
Break out, break out, break out, break out, break out

Friday, June 20, 2014

Integrity

"Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out." Proverbs 10:9

What is integrity? One dictionary defines integrity as "a firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, or incorruptibility; incapable of being bribed or morally corrupted." Another dictionary defines integrity as "1) an unimpaired condition, i.e., soundness, wholeness; 2) firm adherence to a code of moral values, i.e., incorruptible, honor; 3) the quality or state of being complete or undivided, i.e., completeness." Synonyms of integrity are honesty and unity. Do these words give you a better sense of the meaning of integrity? The first definition of the second quotation (soundness or wholeness) is most often applied to a structure or a physical object, such as the girders in a bridge, an engine block, or a piece of pottery. Can it be applied to a person as well? Thinking only of the first definition above in the second quotation, what happens to something that does not have integrity?

What does the Bible say about integrity?
  1. Integrity means treating people fairly and honestly. (Leviticus 19:35-36, Deuteronomy 25:15, Proverbs 16:11-13)
  2. Integrity is giving your word and keeping it. (Exodus 8:28-32)
  3. Integrity will protect you. In Psalm 25, David prays that integrity and uprightness will protect him. How can it? (Psalm 25:21, Proverbs 2:7-8, 10:9, 11:3, 13:6)
  4. Integrity is more valuable than riches. (Proverbs 28:6)
  5. The Lord will test and judge your integrity. (1 Chronicles 29:17, Psalm 7:8)
  6. The Lord hates lies and lack of integrity. (Zechariah 8:16-17)
  7. It may be difficult to maintain your integrity. (Job 2:3, 2:9, Proverbs 29:10)
  8. Your character can be corrupted by bad company. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
  9. Integrity will be rewarded. (1 Kings 9:4-5, Nehemiah 7:2, Psalm 41:11-12)
  10. Your integrity should set an example. (Titus 2:7)
In the Bible, the Hebrew word translated "integrity" in the Old Testament means "the condition of being without blemish, completeness, perfection, sincerity, soundness, uprightness, wholeness." Integrity in the New Testament means "honesty and adherence to a pattern of good works."

Who do you know that you would describe as a person of integrity? What sets this person apart from other people of a similar age and position?

We frequently think of a man of integrity being honest and trustworthy, but integrity is more than that. Look at the second definition of the second quotation and describe the difference between being trustworthy and being incorruptible.

Jesus is the perfect example of a man of integrity. After He was baptized, He went into the wilderness to fast for forty days and nights, during which time Satan came to Him at His weakest to try to break His integrity and corrupt Him. Jesus was wholly man and wholly God at the same time, and He was tempted in every way we are, yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15); that is the definition of integrity. He is the only one who was ever without blemish, perfect, completely truthful, and always showing a pattern of good works. As sinful human beings, our integrity is flawed, but Jesus' integrity is perfect. When we are "in Christ," we partake of His divine nature, having been given new natures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that new nature is one of integrity because it is His nature.

The Bible also describes integrity as the truth. What is the truth? Jesus is the only real truth and the only way to attain eternal life. Nobody comes to the Father unless he goes through Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Many times, Jesus prefaced His words by saying, "Truly, I say to you," which, in essence, means "I tell you the truth." Jesus never lied, and His actions defined integrity. Once we come to Christ in faith and repentance, He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit who assists us in developing our incorruptible integrity. It is impossible to have real integrity without Jesus as our Lord and Savior. May the Lord give us strong integrity that becomes incorruptible through the power of the Holy Spirit.

If people who know you were asked for five words that describe you, would integrity be one of them? What can you do to improve your integrity?

Israel's high regard for Samuel comes as no surprise. Samuel was a man who exuded integrity. Nowhere is this best illustrated than in 1 Samuel 12:1-4:

Samuel said to all Israel, "Behold, I have listened to your voice in all that you said to me, and I have appointed a king over you. And now, here is the king walking before you, but I am old and gray, and behold my sons are with you. And I have walked before you from my youth even to this day. Here I am; bear witness against me before the LORD and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? I will restore it to you."

They replied, "You have not defrauded (cheated) us, or oppressed us, or taken anything from any man's hand."

During his farewell speech, after having led Israel for decades, Samuel promised to repay anything he had unjustly taken from anyone. What a promise! Even more impressive was the people's response. Not one person rose up to make a claim against Samuel.

Samuel’s honesty and personal integrity permeated every area of his life. These two characteristics directed how he regarded his possessions, his business dealings and his treatment of those who were weaker than himself. Samuel held himself accountable to the people he led. He opened himself up to the scrutiny of everyone with whom he had ever had dealings. As a result of this practice, Samuel’s leadership has become legendary as this story has been told and retold throughout the centuries.

People want to know that their leader can be trusted. They want to know that leaders will keep promises and follow through on commitments. Promises and commitments are significant, though, in our day of Machiavellian ethics, it seems that they have become optional. We often seem more concerned with convenience and performance. We give lip-service to the importance of character, but we have the idea that when things get tough, the rules can be changed and commitments and covenants may be discarded at will.

But the Bible makes clear just how important our covenants are. Throughout the Scriptures, God focuses on the fact that He is a God who makes and keeps His covenants, that He can be trusted (1 Chronicles 16:15; Psalm 105:8). God can be trusted because He is trustworthy. That's the point: it always comes down to the issue of character, not just words. Biblical integrity is not just doing the right thing; it's a matter of having the right heart and allowing the person you are on the inside to match the person you are on the outside. This is how God is. This is how his people should be.

Perhaps a good word to think of is "consistency." There must be consistency between what is inside and what is outside. God is totally consistent. His actions and behaviors always match His character and nature. And His goal for us is nothing less. Christ's objective for His disciples is to make us disciplined people. In the words of John Ortberg, "Disciplined people can do the right thing at the right time in the right way for the right reason." Just like God.

It is possible to live one life publicly and another life privately. That is not integrity; it is an invitation for God's discipline. We are to live with consistency in public and in private, because our Father "sees what is done in secret" (Matthew 6:4). Since this is the case, being faithful in small, secret things is a big deal. It may be the case that God is far less concerned with your public persona than He is in your private character. He may be more concerned with how you manage your personal checking account than how well you administer the books on a big business deal. It is in the small, secret places of self-evaluation that God's grace changes you and shapes you into the image of His Son.

In the end, we become what our desires make us. Who we become reveals what we really desire. If you desire the praise of men, then you will become a certain kind of person. But if you desire the praise of God, then integrity will need to become a priority. As you sense the overwhelming holiness of our Creator, you will understand how unraveled you are. But as you focus on the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, you will recognize that even though you may feel undone, you are not undone because He has made you whole. His grace is sufficient, for His power is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

A man of integrity does what is right because it is right. He does the right thing at the right moment in the right way for the right reason, regardless of the cost to himself. Integrity is the measure of a real man. If he makes a promise to his employer, spouse, children, he keeps it. He does not flake out and make up excuses to let himself off the hook. It takes courage to be a man of integrity—in private, in public, in marriage, in family, in business; it takes absolutely nothing to be a coward. Finding people with integrity these days is like winning the lottery; it is near impossible. What kind of a man/woman are you going to be? One with integrity? Or just another liar amongst the many?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

50 Questions to Ask Mormon Missionaries

Questions are a great way to witness to Mormons. Most cultists will turn you off if you begin to preach to them, however, asking questions gives them hope that you are genuinely interested in learning more about their religion. It also is a great way to get them thinking about things they may have never thought about and researching into the false teachings of their church. Questions are great seed-planters that the Holy Spirit can make grow in their hearts and minds and, ultimately, lead them to Christ. They are also great conversation starters. The questions below are grouped into 4 different categories.

Mormon Prophets
1.    Why does the Mormon Church still teach that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God after he made a false prophecy about a temple being built in Missouri in his generation (Doctrine and Covenants 84:1-5)?
2.   Since the time when Brigham Young taught that both the moon and the sun were inhabited by people, has the Mormon Church ever found scientific evidence of that to be true (Journal of Discourses, 1870, v.13, p.271)?  
3.   Why did Brigham Young teach that Adam is “our Father and our God” when both the Bible and the Book of Mormon (Mormon 9:12) say that Adam is a creation of God (Journal of Discourses, Apr. 9, 1852, vol.1, p.50)?
4.   If Brigham Young was a true prophet, how come one of your later prophets overturned his declaration which stated that the black man could never hold the priesthood in the LDS Church until after the resurrection of all other races (Journal of Discourses, Dec. 12, 1854, 2:142-143)?
5.   Since the Bible’s test to determine whether someone is a true prophet of God is 100% accuracy in all his prophecies (Deuteronomy 18:20-22), has the LDS Church ever reconsidered its teaching that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were true prophets?
6.   Since the current LDS prophets sometimes contradict the former ones, how do you decide which one is correct?
7.   Since there are several different contradictory accounts of Joseph Smith’s first vision, how did the LDS Church choose the correct one?
8.   Can you show me in the Bible the LDS teaching that we must all stand before Joseph Smith on the Day of Judgment?

Mormon Scripture
9.   Can you show me archeological and historical proof from non-Mormon sources that prove that the peoples and places named in the Book of Mormon are true?
10.  If the words “familiar spirit” in Isaiah 29:4 refer to the Book of Mormon, why do familiar spirits always refer to occult practices such as channeling and necromancy everywhere else in the Old Testament?
11.  Why did Joseph Smith condone polygamy as an ordinance from God (Doctrine and Covenants 132) when the Book of Mormon had already condemned the practice (Jacob 1:15, 2:24)?
12.  Why were the words “white and delightsome” in 2 Nephi 30:6 changed to “pure and delightsome” right on the heels of the Civil Rights campaign for blacks?
13.  If God is an exalted man with a body of flesh and bones, why does Alma 18:26-28 and John 4:24 say that God is a spirit?
14.  Why did God encourage Abraham & Sarah to lie in Abraham 2:24? Isn’t lying a sin according to the 10 commandments? Why did God tell Abraham and Sarah to lie when 2 Nephi 9:34 condemns liars to hell?
15.  Why does the Book of Mormon state that Jesus was born in Jerusalem (Alma 7:10) when history and the Bible state that he was born outside of Jerusalem, in Bethlehem?
16.  If the Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth, as Joseph Smith said, why does it contain over 4000 changes from the original 1830 edition?
17.  If the Book of Mormon contains the “fulness of the everlasting gospel”, why does the LDS Church need additional works?
18.  If the Book of Mormon contains the “fulness of the everlasting gospel”, why doesn’t it say anything about so many important teachings such as eternal progression, celestial marriage, the Word of Wisdom, the plurality of Gods, the pre-existence of man, our mother in heaven, baptism for the dead, etc?
19.  Why do you baptize for the dead when both Mosiah 3:25 and the Bible state that there is no chance of salvation after death?
20.  Since the word grace means a free gift that can’t be earned, why does the Book of Mormon state “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23)?
21.  Does the LDS Church still regard the Pearl of Great Price as Holy Scripture even after several prominent Egyptologists proved it was an ancient funeral scroll?
22.  Why does the Book of Abraham, chapters 4 & 5, contradict Alma 11 in stating that there is more than one God? 
23.  Why does Doctrine and Covenants 42:18 say there is no forgiveness for a murderer when 3 Nephi 30:2 says there is forgiveness for him?
24.  If the Adam-God doctrine isn’t true, how come Doctrine and Covenants 27:11 calls Adam the Ancient of Days which is clearly a title for God in Daniel chapter 7?
25.  Why does the Book of Mormon contain extensive, word-for-word quotes from the Bible if the LDS Church is correct in teaching that the Bible has been corrupted?
26.  Why do the Bible verses quoted in the Book of Mormon contain the italicized words from the King James Version that were added into the KJV text by the translators in the 16th and 17th centuries?
27.  If the Book of Mormon was engraved on gold plates thousands of years ago, why does it read in perfect 1611 King James Version English?

Bible Questions
28.  If marriage is essential to achieve exaltation, why did Paul say that it is good for a man not to marry (1 Corinthians 7:1)?
29.  Since the Word of Wisdom teaches us to abstain from alcohol, why did Paul encourage Timothy to drink wine for his stomach (1 Timothy 5:23)?
30.  If obeying the Word of Wisdom - which tells us to abstain from caffeine, alcohol and tobacco - is important for our exaltation, why did Jesus say that there is nothing that can enter a man to make him defiled (Mark 7:15)?
31.  If Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament and Elohim is referred to as God in the Old Testament, can you explain Deuteronomy 6:4 to me: “Hear, O Israel: the LORD (Jehovah) our God (Elohim) is one LORD (Jehovah)?
32.  Why does the Mormon Church teach that we can be married in heaven when Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 that in the resurrection men neither marry, nor are they given in marriage?
33.  How can worthy Mormon males become Gods in the afterlife when God already said that before him no God was formed, nor will there be any Gods formed after him (Isaiah 43:10)?
34.  If God had a father who was a God, how come Isaiah 44:8 says that he doesn’t know him?
35.  If God was once just a man who progressed to becoming a God, how do you explain Psalm 90:2: “…even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God”?
36.  How can God be an exalted man when Numbers 23:19 says that God is not a man?
37.  Why does the Mormon Church teach that Elohim had sexual relations with Mary to produce Jesus when both Matthew and Luke teach she was a virgin (The Seer, January, 1853, p.158)?
38.  Why does the LDS Church teach that Jesus paid for our sins in the garden of Gethsemane when 1 Peter 2:24 says it was on the cross? 
39.  Why did Bruce McConkie write that a man may commit a sin so grievous that it will place him beyond the atoning blood of Christ (Mormon Doctrine, 1979, p.93) when the Bible says that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7)?
40.  Why does the LDS Church teach that man first existed as spirits in heaven when 1 Corinthians 15:46 says that the physical body comes before the spiritual?
41.  Since Jesus statement, “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48) is in the present tense, are you perfect right now? Do you expect to be perfect soon? According to Hebrews 10:14, how are we made perfect?
42.  Why do Mormons say the sticks in Ezekiel 37 represent the Bible and the Book of Mormon when Ezekiel 37:20-22 tells us that the sticks represent two nations, not two books? 
43.  Why does the LDS Church teach that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers when both the first chapter of John and Colossians teach that Jesus is the Creator of all things, including Lucifer?
44.  Why do worthy Mormon males hold the Aaronic priesthood since Hebrews 7:11-12 clearly teaches that it was changed and superceded by something better?
45.  If your leaders are correct about the complete falling away of the true church on earth, was Jesus in error when he said that the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18)?

General
46.  If having a physical body is necessary to become a god, how did Jesus become a god before he had a body? 
47.  Do you think the LDS Church will reconsider its teachings that the American Indians are descendants of the Jewish race now that DNA evidence has proven that they are actually descendants of the Asian race?
48.  If polygamy was officially re-instituted by the Mormon Church, how would your wife feel about you taking another woman?
49.  Since the LDS Church teaches that there was a complete apostasy of the true church on earth, does that mean that the 3 living Nephites and the Apostle John went into apostasy also?
50.  Why are Mormon Temple ceremonies secret to the public when the Old Testament temple ceremonies were open to public knowledge?

Friday, June 6, 2014

The New Birth

by William Nicholson, "The Character and Dignity of Christians" 1862

"You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God!" 1 Peter 1:23

No one is born a Christian. No one comes into the world with a pure heart.

The new birth is not effected by baptism—yet some have wickedly declared that we are regenerated by baptism, made children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of Heaven. A person may be baptized in infancy, or in riper years—and yet, like Simon Magus, remain "in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity!" Acts 8:23

The new birth is not merely external, nor does it consist in mere religious duties. Some people have been preserved from immoralities, yet they too must be born again.
A man may perform a multitude of religious duties—and yet have an unholy heart.
He may be honest and fair in his dealings—and yet be an enemy to God.
He may be of a generous to others—and yet not of a gracious disposition.
He may be able to say with the young ruler, "All these things have I kept from my youth up," and yet lack the one thing needful.

The new birth is not merely a profession of faith. Not all who profess Christ, possess Him.

The new birth is a change wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit in the understanding, will, and affections of a sinner, which is the commencement of a new kind of life; and which gives another direction to his judgment, desires, pursuits, and conduct.

This new birth is a divine change. Thus He who gave man his physical being at first, can alone create him in Christ Jesus unto good works. He alone can enstamp His own image, and make us partakers of a Divine nature. To give life to the dead, and to bring a clean thing out of an unclean—is the work of Omnipotence, and the effect of sovereign grace! "Who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God!" John 1:13

This new birth is an inward and invisible change.
The understanding is enlightened,
the judgment is informed,
the affections and desires are purified,
the will is subdued, and subjected to the will of God,
the soul is turned from the love of the world and the creature, to the great Creator and His service.
Regeneration cleanses the corrupt fountain of the heart, and demolishes the strongholds of Satan. It is a change . . .
     from heart wickedness—to heart holiness,
     from enmity to God—to love to God,
     from the image of Satan—to the image of God.

This new birth is a universal change, extending to the heart and life. Not only the mind—but the man is renewed. The tree is made good, and its fruit is good. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

He who is born again, gives evidence that he has passed from death to life. It is visible in his conduct—the observer of him perceives the change. How different now, from what he once was! The following are the principal evidences of regeneration:
  1. Hatred to sin.
  2. Victory over the world.
  3. Brotherly love.
  4. Delight in spiritual duties.
  5. A life of holiness.
  6. Self-loathing, and constant faith in the sacrifice of Christ.
  7. Sincere love to Christ.